Monthly Archives: December 2007

The Beardo Strikes Again

I am always amazed at the media and the City of London’s love affair with The Great Bearded Self Publicist.

Here is someone who has made a living from a personal publicity campaign in which everything he touches turns to gold. He is something of a modern Midas; if only in his own mind.

There are reports that some of his staff at Virgin Atlantic (49% owned by Singapore Airlines) are planning to strike because of poor pay. You would expect The (self proclaimed) People’s Champion to be up in arms that his staff would be treated in such a way. After all he likes to portray Virgin Group as being one happy family under the kind leadership of the Pater Familias – him.

However his response has been that any unhappy workers should resign from the company.

Virgin Atlantic are actually one of the lowest paying airlines for cabin staff. Yet instead of raising their pay he wants them to resign instead. He does not see it as basic right for workers to be paid a fair and competitive wage. Then again he has right to be worried. You see he is hiding a very big secret.

Virgin Atlantic is one of the few profitable companies in his empire. The profits generated are used to prop up those other poorly performing areas of the group that would otherwise drag it down. Remember Virgin Brides or Vigin Cola?

Now I’m not against Beardo as a person. He has done some things very successfully but he’s also keen on making misleading claims about his successes that everyone seems to follow.

His vision of things such as Virgin trains do not bear any real scrutinisation. This is definitely not the success he has claimed and, within the rail industry, this is no secret. He is happy to charge higher and higher fares for a poor service while, at the same time, taking more and more government subsidy for providing such a poor service. Let us not forget that this company is 49% owned by Stagecoach.

Then we have Virgin Money.

Would we really want to let Northern Rock be managed by a company that has no real banking experience? Remember that this is a bank that is only in business because we (the UK taxpayer) is assuming the risk on all its debts – past or future. Yet his announcement that he will save the bank has hardly been challenged by anyone.

One day the house of cards will collapse and there will be many people who will lose out. I hope it nevers happens but fear it will. Will he go the way of other media and city favourites – Worldcom, Enron, Maxwell or Black?

Yawn

The Christmas holidays are almost over. Come Wednesday it’s back to work again.

We’ve had a few days away visiting FW’s family and had a very enjoyable time. However I’m glad to be home and have a few days to prepare for the forthcoming year.

Unfortunately FW returned complete with another horrible cold and has spent the time since recuperating and hoping to be recovered before she has to go in for a few hours tomorrow. Having just got rid of one in time for Christmas it doesn’t help that she gets another just after.

I hope you’ve all had a good time and look forward to catching up with your news.

Many Happy Returns.

Yesterday was a very, very happy Christmas. There was no shouting and screaming, no tears, no one complaining about presents that they’d recieved.

We started the day at our old Chapel and enjoyed a very relaxed service; I found that there were no feelings of regret at having left. The sight of FW and Sad Sister in sheep masks was very entertaining, as was Stroppy Boy in a donkey mask with his glasses on the front.

We then adjourned to Sad Sister’s for the traditional opening of presents and our Beefy lunch. As we were then going over to my parents for tea we decided to have my birthday before we left. So we had the opening of my presents and the traditional parade of the lighted Scooby Cake, followed by the asmatic blowing out of the XX candles.

We then had a very happy time at my folks before we were forced to cut our visit short as we had to return home to attend to the cats.

Many thanks to my sisiter for the wonderful lunch and to my folks for the great Christams tea; Christmas is not Christmas if there’s no Ox tongue involved……

Thanks also to everyone for the cards and birthday wishes.

Bah Humbug!!

I am currently confined to the backroom while Mrs Santa wraps my Christmas and Birthday presents. Isn’t it great how Santa and his Elves always come around to your house to pack the presents for you! In my case some of the Elves at Amazon pack presents that I’ve bought.

So in about 8 hours time it will be Christmas. The time of year when people give thanks for their credit card balances and interest free interest. When shopping trollies are piled to heaven with so much food and drink that a country in Africa could be fed for a month or two.

When presents are exchanged and then returned for credit, or something you actually wanted. A time when some people may actually think of others less well off; then spend the rest of the year ignoring them. When goodwill to all men ends at your garden gate.

Last night we had carol singers at the door; I use the term loosely as they only seemed to know Jingle Bells and We Wish You A Merry Christmas. I almost told them to either sing a carol or “go away” but decided that I couldn’t really be bothered. So I gave them some cash and shut the door.

I actually think that Ebenezer Scrooge may have been right in his attitude. This commercialised monstrosity that we call Christmas should be knocked on the head once and for all. Either we reclaim it or just let them call it Winterval and have done with it.

This country is as Christian as a pagan sacrifice in Ancient Rome.

The Times reported that a survey carried out recently wanted churches to be like Christmas every week. If that spirit was there then they’d come back and worship. This led me to think: “How would they know?” If they never come for anything other than Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals then they’d never know. Many churches are like Christmas every week but still can’t people through the door.

So my message for next year is:

Forget the presents.

Don’t bother with the big meals.

Just sit down and talk about what Christmas is really about and praise God that, in spite of everything, He loves us that much that He’d come to Earth and die for our sins and then rise again to prove that He WAS who He said and IS that powerful.

Man Flu At Bay

Thankfully the lurgy has remained at bay. I still have the low grade headache and a slight sniffle but the full attack hasn’t arrived as yet.

The service this morning went well. We had changed the running order slightly on Friday night and I’d made a slight mistake on my copy of the running order so we had a minor hitch but everything went well. This afternoon I’ve been taking things easy and am looking forward to tonight’s Top Gear.

Thankfully I don’t have to go to work tomorrow so I can try to make sure that the last minute prezzie packing is done.

This Is Not man-Flu

Today I am mainly trying to avoid going down with the dreaded lurgy. So far I have narrowed the carriers of this illness down to the human race. As such DEFRA are beginning a cull of all humans to prevent the disease spreading to politicians. This is within current European Commission policy.

They thought they’d start with Europe and end in America – there’s no humanity there.

I’m feeling better than I did when I woke up this morning. In celebration of his I’m off to lie in front of the TV and watch films all afternoon.

Here are the Christmas Jokes (apologies for not putting one on yesterday):

How long should an elf’s legs be?

Just long enough to reach the ground.

What’s the most popular wine at Christmas?

Do I have to eat my brussels sprouts?

Christmas Repeats

Many will hold true to the maxim that there are too many repeats on TV at Christmas in the UK. However we’re going for something slightly different this year.

Last year was our first real Christmas together. The previous Christmas FW’s mum had had a major stroke the weekend before and FW spent the Christmas hols with her family and I spent them with mine, with only a few days together in between.

To celebreate last year, FW spent the week before Christmas with a cold but receovered to enjoy the festivities. To make up for this I spent Boxing Day onwards in bed with her cold while she, at my insistence, went to spend a few days with her family as originally planned.

At present FW been spending the last 2 days in bed making URGH noises and feeling sorry for herself – she has a cold. Do you see a trend forming here? I’ve just taken a few panadol to try to drive off the headache I’ve had since yesterday evening. I also woke up this morning with a sore throat, stage 1 of the lurgy.

I’m therefore expecting that this year may follow the same pattern as last year. Personally I just want to survive Christmas Day unscathed. I don’t care what happens after.

Past Work Lives

I arrived at work this morning to find that I’d left my office keys at home. I had to endure a 20 minute wait in McD’s, drinking a cup of awful coffee. It was only marginally better than waiting outside the office in the car.

Yesterday morning was spent at my company’s Bristol office being introduced to members of our team their. I was asked what I’d done previously and explained my background. As I went through things I was told that their was someone in the European section who used to work at my first shipping company. Lo and behold, I was confronted by someone I used to work with 20 years ago.

I should have known that in such a parochial industry I was bound to run into people I’d known in my previous working life but it always comes as a shock when I do.

A few weeks ago I got in touch with someone that used to do haulage work for me before I left London 10 years ago. I only discovered where he was because I had a quiet five minutes and was trawling through the company’s client list. I thought that his company had been bought out shortly after I stopped dealing with him but it appears that he’d transferred everything into one of his group companies and carried on. I just never thought to contact him as they’d been bought out.

I keep running into people who know people I’ve worked with in the past. One of the guys I work with has even applied for the same jobs that I have and got one of them, that I’d been promised.

This world is shrinking all the time.

I owe you 2 jokes as yesterday I didn’t post:

What do you get hanging from Santa’s roof?

Tired arms.

How many chimneys does Santa go down?

Stacks.

Carols

How can you tell that Christmas is upon us?

Well, last night we attended a Combined Schools Carol service that Stroppy Boy was taking part in. Now I will admit that I was more than a little apprehensive about attending this function. Thoughts of compulsory attendance at such events as a schoolchild and the dire quality are memories that I try to bury as far down as possible.

Yet last night was the opposite. I really enjoyed myself. Yes, me! There was, of course, a cynical edge as I got to make fun of some of the teachers. One pianist was described as “like a chicken” by Shouty Boy because of her constant bouncieness.

Stroppy Boy as made me grin as he made faces and gestures at certain points but it was not the painful event that I expected.

Well, except for the “Interlude” when the Combined Wind Ensemble played The Rose and Frosty The Snowman.

Do you remember how all school orchestras have a habit of making a joyless noise? Well that happened at this point. I narrowed it down to the clarinets only being allowed to play 2 notes.

The venue was a new church near to the M4. By near I mean about 50 yards from the on ramp by the Tunnels. Yet you heard none of that inside. It is a barn of a church with a large empty hall that seems to dwarf the chairs and people inside. FW described it as being soulless and I think that that sums it up best.

Today’s Christmas Joke:

What do you call a rich elf?

Welfy!!!

Ice Lolly Legs

Saturday saw me watching the Pontypool/Cardiff cup match. It was lovely, warm, sunny day in the vallies. Apart from the warm part anyway. FW wasn’t feeling to good and, as we were going out in the evening for a family birthday, decided to sit this one out.

She was right.

Pontypool were outclassed and lost 62-13. Sitting in the stand just prolonged the agony. It was absolutely freezing. For the first time in living memory I actually wanted to leave the match before the end. To tell you how cold it was…. I sat in the car with the heater on, after FW collected me post match, had an hour and a half in the house with the heating on and still needed to have the car heater on max to thaw out my legs on the drive down to the meal.

Yesterday we went to chapel and then visited my folks for lunch. Now the joke in the family is that we only get invited when mum needs help with the computer or dad needs help to do something round the house. True to form, mum had a new TFT screen that needed to be installed.

They asure me that this isn’t really the case but you never know with parents do you?